Tourism industry wants grants for bushfire recovery

Tourism industrywants grants for bushfire recovery

1 February 2007

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Australia — Tourism operators affected by the Victorian bushfires arepushing for direct financial assistance, such as grants or interest ratesubsidies, to help keep them in business.

But the Victorian Government is not saying whether itwill provide direct assistance.

A Government spokesman says its tourism recovery package,announced yesterday, will help attract tourists to north-east Victoria andGippsland, which will help operators get back on their feet.

Chris Dunlop from High Country Horses in Merrijig sayshis business has been closed since the fires started in early December and he isstruggling to make ends meet.

“It has been difficult, we’ve had to go and increaseour mortgage and we’ll just have to do the best we can until such time we canget operating again,” he said.

Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan says governmentgrants of up to $20,000 would help tourism operators stay viable.

He says operators in bushfire-affected areas are worriedthey will have to shut their doors unless they get urgent financial help.

Mr Ryan says it is time the Government listened to thereal needs of tourism operators.

“They are faced with such debt levels now that theyjust can’t see their way through it,” he said.

“They’re scrambling to try to get alternate means offunding and finance but in many instances that’s simply been exhausted.

“If the tourism industry in all its forms is asimportant to us as we say that it is, I think that it’s time now to deliver forthese people.”

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